The LDP presidential election comes after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced his resignation amid criticism over his government's COVID-19 response.
The winner is all but guaranteed to become the country's new leader as the party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, control both chambers of the Diet.
Kono ruffled feathers by opposing nuclear energy and abandoning a costly missile defense system in the past. Veteran lawmakers, including members of the Aso faction to which he belongs, have been cautious about backing him.
Some may turn to Kishida, known for his stability and calm demeanor, as a safer choice. Kishida, 64, has secured the support of the faction he heads and that of veteran lawmakers in the big factions led by Hosoda, Aso, and Takeshita.
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